Friday, 31 October 2014

A musical interlude for Halloween

For Halloween and all you "trick or treaters" out there tonight beware the monsters...

From 1962,  The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Internal exhortations to nowhere in the SWP

The Socialist Workers Party has just issued the second of it's Pre-Conference Internal bulletins which "should not be circulated to non-SWP members or outside the party" (you know the drill by now). The Professor and his "Lynch Mob" still do not understand the power of the Internet.

Or reality... 

The SWP claim their membership is some 5,678 (down from 7,180 last year) which surely no one, even the most ardent party loyalist can believe?

Good job Callincos doesn't teach maths.

The row about the Disciplinary Committee proceedings still continues to rear it's ugly head.  Frankly "comrades" you are never going to be allowed to forget the delta affair no matter how much you stick your heads in the sand.

"Andy W" a "National Member" writes:

Given the dreadful outcome of Dispute Committee’s cases from last year (in terms of loss of membership and soiling of the SWP’s reputation), a sensible course would have been to ‘bend the stick’ and ensure that any disciplinary cases were treated with the utmost care.

Not quite sure why anyone would need to bend a stick of any sort whatever that is supposed to mean.

Bit late to make sure disciplinary cases were treated with "care". The party has no reputation other than being considered a self perpetuating shower of (add your own expletive here) that no one wants to have anything to do with anymore.

As for all the stuff about working in the universities I'm not sure there will be anyone to listen.

Student activists are all about "safe spaces" at the moment and as for having a bunch of shouty (alleged) "rape apologists" in their midst's, no number of libel threats is going to force Socialist Worker down the throats of the student movement for want of a better phrase.

Still for those of you interested in such sectariana here is a link to the second bulletin:

Can't wait for IB number 3 ..........

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Kobane is this generations Stalingrad

Cross-post by Eric Lee

Stalingrad, 1943.

By the summer of 1942, the outcome of the second world war was easy to predict. The German U-boat operations in the North Atlantic were proving increasingly successful in sinking Allied ships. In North Africa, Rommel’s forces had taken Tobruk. And one year into Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht had wrested control of most of the western part of the country. The forward march of Nazism seemed unstoppable.

For the last several months, news reports about the onward march of the fascists of “Islamic state” have echoed that same sense of inevitability. Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, fell in June. Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town, fell the next day. In August, the Yazidi stronghold Sinjar fell. Every day brought new reports of victories for the Islamists. ISIS seemed unstoppable.

Until Kobane.

Like Stalingrad, Kobane has become something of a ghost town, battered by shelling and bombing, most of its civilian population having fled. What remains behind are the determined fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — many of them women. And those fighters have now fought the fascists to a standstill.

Before Stalingrad, the victory of Hitler seemed highly likely, if not inevitable. After Stalingrad, the defeat of the Nazis became certain. From the time the Wehrmacht’s 6th army finally surrendered in February 1943 until the final collapse of the Third Reich in May 1945, the German army never again won a decisive victory. From then on, the war consisted of a long and bloody retreat back to Berlin.

It is too early to say if this will be the case with Kobane.

Under enormous international pressure, the Erdogan regime in Turkey has finally agreed to allow Peshmerga fighters from the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq to join their fellow Kurds in defending Kobane. As I write these words, they are on their way.

At the same time, units of the pro-Western Free Syrian Army (FSA) have arrived in Kobane to join the YPG fighters.

And these forces — the YPG, the FSA and the Peshmerga — are being backed by the immense air power of the United States and its allies. The US is dropping not only bombs, but supplies that have been stiffening resistance in Kobane.

According to one report, “News reached the world on Monday morning that an airdrop by Coalition forces of 27 bundles of arms, ammunition and medical aid had been delivered successfully to the YPG in Kobane. Finally, the long awaited, much-needed arms had been delivered to the YPG guerrillas, much to the dismay of Turkey. All morning, people in the village received the news with satisfaction, proclaiming ‘Long live Obama.’”

In doing so, these airdrops repeat the support given by the US to the Soviets during the Second World War. At that time, there were no US “boots on the ground” in Russia, but there were plenty of supplies coming through. In fact, it has been argued that part of the reason why Hitler needed to take Stalingrad was to cut off the flow of US supplies and weapons going up the Volga.

A defeat for the Islamists in Kobane doesn’t necessarily deal the fascists a death blow. It’s more likely that the struggle will see ups and downs, with some victories for the Kurds and their allies, and some for “Islamic state”.

But for the first time in a long time, the fascists are feeling the sting of a strong and motivated resistance. In Kobane today, the spirit of Stalingrad lives.

Demonstrate to support the Kurds:
Saturday November 1st 2pm
London: Trafalgar Square.

On 1st November, people around the world will be out on the streets to protest against brutality by ISIS and at the same time express solidarity with the people of Kobane..

Londoners, in their hundreds and even thousands, will be out in Trafalgar Sq. between 2-5pm where there will be speeches as well as slogans. The purpose of the event in London will be to let the world know, and more importantly let Kobane know, that we are with them!

Dozens of English, Kurdish and Turkish speakers will be lined up to give their support. This will be a day when the world stands beside Kobane.

Union of Democratic Forces - London


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A "Socialist Appeal" to nowhere


One of the smaller organisations of the far-left is Socialist Appeal or the "British section of the International Marxist Tendency" to give them their full name. Socialist Appeal is the remains of the Militant Tendency that stayed in the Labour Party after Peter Taffe fell out with Militants founder Ted Grant and took his (majority) faction to form what is now known as the Socialist Party.

Like their former co-thinker in the Socialist Party, Socialist Appeal are a rather boring lot who are prone to delusions of grandeur and of course opportunism. In Scotland (like the rest of the UK) they have been getting absolutely nowhere so time to jump on the new nationalist socialist bandwagon for them.

In a typical Trotskyist statement entitled Scotland needs a revolution they excitedly report:

The Referendum campaign has transformed the political landscape in Scotland. It was a defining moment. This seismic shift has sent shock waves through the British capitalist establishment.
Sounds exiting.

They continue:

The political groundswell has also resulted in the Green Party growing to 6,000 members. The Scottish Socialist Party has grown from a small base to some 2-3,000. It claims to have grown by 2,000 members in 72 hours, with branches springing up throughout Scotland. The Radical Independence Campaign has also drawn in thousands of supporters and is now talking about a new Left Project in Scotland.

Ah, now I get it. Everybody is recruiting disaffected nationalist types and Socialist Appeal wants part of the action. So off they go from being buried deep inside the Labour Party where no one notices them to....

We have discussed the new situation and how best to utilize our energies in the next period in order to further the cause of socialism. We believe the Labour Party has been largely discredited in the eyes of most youth and workers. As Marxists, we are not going to stand on the sidelines in the present political realignment in Scotland.

We believe that the best way forward is the building of those forces on the left in Scotland, on a revolutionary and internationalist basis, beginning with the Scottish Socialist Party.

...being buried in the SSP where they hope someone (or two) will notice them.

And when that fails they'll probably trundle back to the Labour Party where.......

Meanwhile the tiny, but highly entertaining (for inveterate "trot spotters) Communist Party of Great Britain (Weekly Worker)has had a one man split. The rather odd Ian Donovan has developed some bizarre theories about the international influence of Jews (?) that the CPGB found a little unpalatable.
He's gone and formed a one man organisation of his own, grandly entitled Communist Explorations.

Who was it that coined the phrase "When the pub closes"?

They must have been thinking of these kind of people.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The hypocrites of the Socialist Workers Party


The right of free speech is at the heart of democracy, and even has to be extended to those who don't actually believe in freedom. 

The recent attempts by the student/feminist movement to prevent the Socialist Workers Party from exercising it's democratic rights is understandable given the behaviour of the SWP, but would without doubt set a dangerous precedent.

Quite simply where would it end?

But the recent actions of the SWP in Edinburgh really do show the "comrades" up for what hypocrites they are. 

The SWP has claimed a motion is "libellous" so the students union has withdrawn it. Now the Students newspaper has had to have every page containing a report about the motion on the SWP removed because the editors are worried about legal costs should the SWP pursue this course of action.

Is it a bluff?

Dave Renton, a former SWP member does and writes:

The SWP’s problem is that truth is a complete defence to libel. And the only way that a court can establish whether a person has spoken untrtuthfully is by ordering both sides to disclose all the documents of a case and forming a view for itself. That means that one of the tasks facing any organisation seriously maintaining libel is to disclose to the court and to the party which it accuses of libel all the documents of the case, both those that support its case, and those that potentially undermine its case.

Charlie Kimber knows very well the catastrophic impact that the details of what happened during the two investigations would have – even on Smith’s most blinkered supporters, let alone on any new recruits to the SWP – if they were finally made public. He has no doubt been advised, or if he has not been advised, he should have been – that once a document has been part of court proceedings, there is nothing you can do to stop its open discussion. For those reasons, he will not pursue a libel threat to court.

The real question that needs to be put to the Socialist Workers Party is this:

How come it's OK for the SWP to use the courts for libel and not rape allegations?


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Time for Muslims to say no to Jihad!

The news that a "fourth Portsmouth man" had been killed whilst fighting for ISIS caught my attention of the front page of The Sunday Times this morning. According to his family he had been "desperate" to come home. Why because he had become disillusioned by the "violent Jihadist life" he had become involved in.

Poor soul? Not in my book.

This wasn't some poor oppressed badly educated man. This 20 year old had been educated in a private school and had all the privileges afforded to him of a democratic society.

He and his idiot mates (there were six of them all told it would seem) went to fight for Jihad of their own free will.

Jihad is violent. Jihad is war. Jihad means killing people.

Muhammad Hassan and his mates knew this.

And the ISIS organisation they joined is one of the worst examples of what savagery mankind has to offer, especially when combined with this so-called "religion of peace".

And just where did this fanatic fall?


A city facing the onslaught and slaughter of the barbarian ISIS hordes. A city under siege and still waiting for the world to intervene to finally end the threat.

The time has come for the world of Islam to face the truth that their religion is not just being abused by extremists but that their religion is flawed to the core.
  • An Islamic government in Iran murders a woman for killing the man who raped her.
  • Another Islamic court in Pakistan has passed a death sentence on yet another Christian accused of blasphemy.
  • Now Islamists threaten the integrity of Egypt with their mass murder of soldiers in the Sianai desert.
  • In Canada Islamists murder at random.
No doubt some oddball anti-imperialist will call me an Islamophobe but my aim is to appeal to the ordinary Muslims of this world.

Worship how you please but the time has come for the reform of Islam. An Itjihad. I'd prefer you all to realise that there is no god, but one step at a time.

Learn tolerance.

And learn it quickly.

This violence must end. Now!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Jack Bruce 1943 to 2014

Jack Bruce one of the world's greatest bass players passed away today. He was a member of one of the world's best known "super-groups" Cream.

Rest In Peace Jack. Your music will live forever.

Friday, 24 October 2014

PCS: A union in terminal decline?

Earlier this year the Socialist Party and it's allies in the PCS union attempted to arrange a "shotgun wedding" to merge the union with Unite. There was much speculation as to whether this was to do with the state of PCS finances. Chris Baugh the Assistant General Secretary assured concerned reps and members that was not the case.

The merger did not go ahead after the National Executive motion was knocked back by conference and the Unite delegation left (some say stormed) out of the observers gallery. Certainly the route to shoring up the ever failing fortunes of PCS by being subsumed into Unite is on a back burner and certainly not on Unites list of current priorities given there will be a general election next year and they are more concerned with getting a Labour Government elected.

However something remains seriously wrong in PCS as the news was broken by the satirical PFLCPSA website that the union is considering another option that of selling off it's purpose built headquarters building in Falcon Road, Clapham Junction:

Well, we could sell Falconcrest to be turned into luxury flats, but that would involve enormous amounts of pre-planning, getting reports done, having architects draw up plans, consulting not just PCS members, but GMB members who work there. Nah, too much effort.

Although, we could sneak off and get that all done in August while everyone is on their hols and not bother to tell anyone, and then sneak in a a full scale planning application to the Local Council, also without telling anyone, because we wouldn't want anyone to find out until the time to register comments has expired.

And so it came to pass. The expiry date for comments was 02/10/14. Falconcrest is destined to become 65 luxury flats, subject to planning approval. Tory run Wandsworth will just lurve having a new bunch of yuppies to vote for them. Any affordable housing? Hahahahaha! What do you think we are, socialists or something?

All done in secret it would seem since none of the reps or members were informed of this possibility and yet when interviewed by The Socialist newspaper recently, Mark Serwotka the "Dear Leader" of PCS said:

I would say the union is unrecognisable from the one that existed when I became general secretary.

It's now a union that respects its activists as its lifeblood rather than an inconvenience. It has democratised massively in terms of electing its senior full time officers, of giving much more power to the groups, the branches and the regions, where decisions can be made at a level nearer the grassroots.

It is certainly true that PCS is unrecognisable from when Serwotka and his henchmen took over. PCS has changed from being a union that represents its members to one that represents only it's (far left) political activists. Most of the latter part of his statement about "grassroots" power is just hype.

PCS has become a very centralised, authoritarian union.

Serwotka also inherited a financially stable union that didn't need to look to merge with other unions or sell off the "family silver".

Members would be right to ask what is going on in PCS. 

Is there something we are not being told? After all the man who controls the purse strings, the rather useless Mr Baugh is a member of the Socialist Party which older readers will recall was formerley the Militant Tendency.

And Militant buggered up the finances of Liverpool Council.  So much so they had to send out taxis to issue redundancy notices to their staff. Hence Neil Kinnocks famous speech.

Oh and they helped make Labour unelectable hence the years of Thatcherism we ended up having to endure.

They still don't want a Labour Government by the way. PCS has a policy to "stand and support" candidates that will eventually lead to the union backing the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition which gets next to no votes.

PCS has become divorced from the political mainstream and far weaker than ever thanks to the actions of Serwoka and his far-left allies.

Members need a union, but it seems to me PCS is no longer up to the task.

The question is what happens next?

By the way for anyone that's interested Serwotka got re-elected unopposed this week. Hardly worth mentioning.

Will the last person out of Falcon road please turn the lights out.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Turkish President Erdogan fails to imprison cartoonist

The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems to be developing his megalomania on a more personal level. He took exception to  a caricature produced for the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper which ridiculed Erdogan over the corruption scandal that hit the headlines recently.

The artist, Musa Kart could have faced nearly 10 years in jail for just poking a little fun at the increasingly dictatorial Islamist President. Today's Zama reported:

Cumhuriyet reported on Monday that according to the indictment filed by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart for insulting him and slandering him via the media in a caricature that was published in the daily's Feb. 1, 2014, edition. The press bureau of the prosecutor's office initially ruled that there were no grounds for legal action over the caricature. However, upon objections from Erdoğan's lawyer, the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court ruled that the cartoon went beyond the boundaries of criticism and revoked the initial decision. The indictment filed afterward calls for a prison sentence of up to nine years and 10 months for Kart.

The cartoon depicted a couple of thieves stealing from a safe. One says "Don't rush, the watchman is a hologram". In the background is a figure of Erdogan who apparently appeared as a 10 foot hologram at one of his rallies!

Cult of the personality strikes again.

Or should it be ego?

The irony is that none of the 209 people implicated in the scandal was charged. Not one. All charges were dropped by the public prosecutor. With a little help from Erdogan who had all the investigators, police and prosecutors replaced when the whole sorry affair became news.

The protector of public morality on behalf of the Turkish people was more concerned about a cartoon than allowing justice. There's a surprise.

However the attempt to punish Musa failed and he was cleared of charges today. In his defence En.Haberler reported that Mr Kart said in his defence:

“Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult. I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect's seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.”

Yes it was.

And budding dictators don't have a sense of humour.

Turkey is a society that remains divided between Islamists and secularists. The fact Musa Kart avoided imprisonment shows there remains some hope that democracy and justice can be saved from the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt Islamist regime led by the humourless self serving President Erdogan.

This case shows how important free speech and expression is and how fragile it can be if attacked by those who don't believe in it for anybody but themselves.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Students wrong to ban & censor the SWP

It seems the Socialist Workers Party just cannot get away from the side-effects of the "comrade delta" scandal. A motion has been submitted to the Edinburgh University Students Association to stop the SWP from not only holding events on campus, ban them "advertising" their wares and prevent the ratification of any associated student groups.

The motion sponsored by the University's Feminist Society was due to go before the student body on October 23rd, but the SWP have threatened to sue for libel. The EUSA have suspended the motion whilst they take legal advice.

I don't intend to re-iterate the events surrounding the downfall of the SWP since they are well documented on this blog as well as probably hundreds of others around the world wide web. However the Journal reports:

Supporters of the motion claim that banning of the SWP is necessary under EUSA’s safe space policy, as well as their policy to “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus.”

Eleanor Brayne-Whyatt, Events and Fundraising Secretary of the Feminist Society, submitted the motion. She previously told The Journal: “This will show that rape apologism and victim blaming cannot be put up with, and any movement that allows them to take place and that stamps all over women’s rights for the furthering of some ‘bigger’ cause will not be accepted. It is a shame that this hasn’t come sooner.”

Now there are a whole range of difficult issues to be covered as a result of this on-going debate. Rape is a serious issue that everyone, not just students, not just the left but the whole of society has to address. Women's rights and in particular the right to simply say no to sexual advances must be taken seriously.

The SWP has behaved very badly in their dealings on not just the "delta" business but over other alleged incidents that have been reported as taking in place inside their organisation. If people want to shun the SWP and their publications that's their right. 

But should they be banned and censored?

If so where else does this policy lead us?

The right to free speech and peaceful assembly is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society. There are limits to free speech, such as libel or promoting racial hatred or violence against individuals or groups of people.

I have no more time for the SWP than the British National Party. Both organisations stand against democracy. Both would introduce dictatorships. The SWP would have gulags, the BNP concentration camps. Violence is very much inherent in their adopted political philosophy's as much as both would seek to deny it.

But should we ban them because of their ideas?

The clear answer has to be no.

In order for democracy to function properly we have to allow those with whom we fundamentally disagree the same freedoms which we wish to afford ourselves, otherwise where would the limitations of the right to speak and write freely end?

There is no simple answer, but the approach of banning the SWP opens up a Pandora's box, especially in the students movement which seems to me to be dominated by increasingly bizarre and doubtful ideas and individuals.

Many Universities have given in to the Islamists demands of gender separation in meetings. "Islamophobia" is used as a means to silence any critic of Islam including the atheist, humanists and secularists who reject all religions not just Islam.

Yet the the SWP is to be banned in order to have a "safe space", whatever that actually means in practise rather than in theory. I can't see the students banning Islamic groups because of their anti-women, anti-gay, anti-anybody else ideology.

That would be "Islamophobic" wouldn't it.

Banning the SWP is wrong. Cold shoulder, ignore, argue with, steer clear. Fine.

Expose the SWP, expose their pathetic little group to scrutiny. Frankly the same should be done to all the dodgy little groups both political and religious that seem to run rampant in our universities.

Put Equality, Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Democracy first and show the world what pathetic creatures these extremists are regardless of the ideology they claim to follow.

Freedom of speech is the rock from which democracy flows.

Use it don't lose it.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Overturn Asia Bibi's death sentence #saveAsiaBibi

Four years ago, a mother of five kids in Pakistan named Asia Bibi was sentenced to die for blasphemy.

Petition by Emily Clarke via

Asia was alleged to have made disparaging comments about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking out of their water glasses because of her Christian faith -- a charge she has denied. This week, a High Court in Pakistan upheld Asia’s death sentence, which means that she now faces execution unless Pakistan’s Supreme Court and the global community works to save her.

Join me in asking your government to speak out on behalf of Asia, and help bring the global community together to #SaveAsiaBibi.

Earlier this year, I started a petition calling on governments around the world to stand up for Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman in Sudan who was sentenced to die for refusing to renounce her faith. More than 1 million people signed my petition to #SaveMeriam, and world leaders like UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out demanding her freedom. This past summer, Meriam’s case was thrown out and she was reunited with her children and husband. Now we have another moment to put the spotlight on religious persecution of women, and help Asia Bibi be released.

In Pakistan, politicians have been killed for defending Asia. Her own five children and family are in hiding, fearing their lives. Her execution could happen soon, and her family and supporters continually targeted, unless the global community comes together to demand her release and her safety.

We can help Asia try to secure freedom, and try to make sure she is reunited with her family safely. Please show your support and help protect Asia those standing up for Asia.

Religious persecution has to stop.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Time for Muslims to drag Islam into the modern world

One of the major stories circulating today is that of the mother who set off to "rescue" her son from ISIS after he had run off to join "Jihad". The Times reported:

A Single mother travelled to the Turkish Border in a dangerous attempt to persuade her British-born son to leave the Islamic State.

She waited there for three week and used an ipad in an Internet cafe to send directions to her son, 21, to help him make his way back to safety.

The odd thing is that this young man was actually brought up as a Christian and still got "radicalised" on the Internet and joined some 600 youths who have travelled to the Middle East to join the brutal ranks of ISIS and lets not forget how brutal these people are. The Daily Mail reported:

An horrific image has emerged of a baby girl moments from being beheaded by IS.

The picture is among several recovered by Kurdish soldiers from the mobile phones of dead fanatics in the Syrian town of Kobane.

It shows the child being pinned to the floor, in clear distress as a knife is held to her throat.

It is feared she may have been beheaded along with her family for being an Alevi Muslim, a branch of Islam whose followers have been targeted by IS. 

Other pictures show beheadings and jihadis playing football with the severed heads of victims.

This youth (if you can call a 21 year old such), is one of around 250 who have returned to the UK. One wonders how many crimes these men have committed. As much as the mother can be commended for her actions, we have to remain extremely vigilant about what future action these men take.

Crimes beyond most peoples imagination have taken place in the name of the so-called Islamic State and it is going to be partially up to the Muslim community to tackle the extremists in their midst's.

Another equally disturbing story has been seemingly under reported in the media, that of the outcome of the trial of one of Hate Preacher Abu Hamza who has been sentenced to prison for torturing a man, not in the Middle East but in the middle of London. According to a very brief report in the Times:

Tito Ibn Sheik, 28 was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a court heard that he "orchestrated violence" against Hassan Monwwer, a restaurant worker over a £15,000 debt. Mr Manawwer was kidnapped in Acton, West London and taken to underground garages and forced to call his elderly father in Egypt to plead for money before being found by police.

This trial took place in 2012, but has only just been reported due to a Judge lifting reporting restrictions. 

Why were we not told earlier?

The son of an Islamist "preacher" turns out to be nothing more than a common criminal. 

The Jihadists go abroad to fight for a criminal group defining themselves as an "Islamic state"

Beheading babies? A "religious act"?

These men (and some women) must be treated as criminals and the Muslim community in this country must address the problem that their so called "religion of peace" is producing such barbarians.

It means a critical self examination of how the Koran and the (somewhat dubious) Hadiths are used by these dangerous miscreants to justify such wanton cruelty and savagery.

Islam itself needs to grow up and adjust to the modern world.

And that means accepting criticism, learning tolerance, understanding equality and human rights.

Anything else will leave Islam in the dark ages.

And a danger to everyone else.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Censorship: Serwotka is not for turning

Following my rejection of a demand issued by the General Secretary of the PCS union that I must remove a guest post by Margaret Rathbone, I have received another missive from the Dear Leader. In this he complains I "misrepresent him" over his directive.

To remind readers this is what he said:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

Quite clear I would have thought. His attempts to justify this clear demand are frankly irrelevant. Neither he nor the PCS union have jurisdiction over my or anyone else's blogs or websites. It's just censorship.

And talking of censorship, Robert Mottershead a PCS member in the HMRC posted an article from the Eclectic Blue website which covered the story in an article entitled The Civil Service Union from North Korea to the PCS members FB page. The article was about censorship rather than the RCTU but fell foul of the PCS leadership and was removed. 

A post from "admin" then appeared stating that no articles about the RCTU would be allowed. Robert publicly resigned from PCS as he said this was the second time he had been censored. Amongst the responses was the President Janice Godrich. Although this thread was itself deleted, I did keep copies of her interesting remarks including a reply to me.

Janice Godrich: Robert this is not about censorship. This is the official pcs Facebook page, administered and funded by pcs staff from pcs members money via their subscriptions. Pcs has recognition rights in the civil service. Our members money is not been used to promote allternative organisations because individuals cannot win a democratic argument in pcs. by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page but it's not been done on our members time and money

Howard Fuller: "by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page" Thanks Janice. You need to tell Mark Serwotka that!

Janice Godrich: Howard: anyone can promote what they like, it doesn't mean their actions don't have consequences.

An ominous comment especially when taken in tandem with the concluding words of Mark Serwotka's latest letter:

Please consider this matter carefully.

The consequences could indeed lead to what the union calls a "Rule 10" complaint which could lead to my suspension as a Branch Secretary for up to three years or expulsion. I should imagine I'll find out in due course.

The only question is whether I will immediately be suspended before I'm found guilty by the PCS leadership or after.

My crime? Publishing a guest article (without endorsement) on an issue that would be of interest to readers on my own personal blog which has no connection to the PCS union of which I happen to be a member.

My message to Mark Serwotka and his followers is simple. I will not remove the article and do not and will never recognise your authority to even tell me I "must" do as you say on my private blog.

Defend freedom of speech!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Manifesto for Secularism

With the rise of Islamism and religious intolerance across the world, the time has come to stand up for basic human rights being above those of religious rights as seems to be becoming the norm particularly under Islam and anti-gay legislation across Africa and Russia.

The Times reported today the disgusting decision of a Pakistani court to uphold the death sentence of a Christian mother accused of insulting Mohammad after an argument with some Muslim women at work over the use of a drinking cup.

The level of intolerance involved in this case is astonishing. The argument erupted as the other women objected to her use of a cup by a Christian, itself a sign of inherent bigotry. Her family were attacked and beaten before going into hiding and Islamists have been cheering the decision to execute her.

Barbarism. No other word for it.

Last weekend a number of leading secularists assembled (under threat) in London to discuss the need to fight for an alternative to the religious fundamentalist agenda being forced on people across large sections of the world.

This Manifesto is the result and should be supported by all rational thinkers across the political spectrum.

Manifesto for Secularism

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.

2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.

3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.

4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.
Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

There are 42 initial signatories including AC Grayling (Philosopher), Peter Tatchell (Activist),  Inna Shevchenko (FEMEN) and Terry Sanderson (President National Secular Society)

The following video shows Maryam Namazie moving the manifesto at the conference,

Friday, 17 October 2014

On Students, Genocides, Holocausts and Kurds.

Photo: Sussex friends of Israel

Most rational people were absolutely horrified by the decision  of the National Union of Students Executive to reject a motion condemning ISIS and supporting the Kurds. There has also been consternation over Goldsmiths Students Union describing the Holocaust as "eurocentric" and "colonialist".

The motion they objected to was this:

The Student Union recognises the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.

The Student Union shall organise commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually).

Hardly a contentious motion one would have thought? Yet it was reported:

..those attending are encouraged to live-tweet the event using the hashtag “GSUAssembly”.
One student named T. Walpole, present at the Assembly, objected: “Our union is anti-Zionist.”
They added: “This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.

“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.”

What on earth is going on in the student movement?

Alan Johnson addresses the problem in his Telegraph Blog:

Part of the explanation is this: a ‘new paradigm of progressive thought’ is dominant on the left, and the left is dominant on campus, whether behind the lectern or in front of it.

The phrase is Joshua Muravchik’s, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Josh explained the tectonic shift to me recently when we sat for an in-depth interview for Fathom.
After a century or so, the paradigm which came from Marx – of a class struggle – had lost a good deal of its allure and was pushed aside by the new paradigm of racial, national and ethnic struggle. That paradigm grew out of the anti-colonial movements which reverberated in Europe, and was overlaid by the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Both were seen to be part of one struggle of the people of colour against the white man, or as it is sometimes put, the ‘Rest against the West.’ I remember for example Jesse Jackson , at the height of his considerable popularity in the US, made a visit to Cuba and launched into a litany of slogans, the theme of which was ‘our time has come’ and where the first person plural of ‘our time’ meant blacks in America, Latinos and other third-world people fighting against the West. It was seen somehow as all part of one omnibus struggle and this paradigm really was more exciting to my generation and subsequent ones – generations post World War Two – than the older class struggle paradigm.
The new paradigm determines the way the world appears to its partisans.

Meanwhile the NUS Scottish Executive has passed the resolution that the NUS rejected which can be found on this AWL leaflet. Some common sense at last.

And while the future academics play ideological games about the nature of imperialism the Kurds continue to fight for their lives. 

But what do I know. I'm white and Jewish so they wouldn't listen to me.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Mark Serwotka demands blog post be taken down

In an extraordinary move yesterday the General Secretary of the PCS union, Mark Serwotka wrote to me demanding that I must take down a recent guest post by Margaret Rathbone about the new Revenue and Customs Union that is being formed by disgruntled PCS members in the HMRC.

Mark Serwotka states:

I am writing in relation to a posting on your personal website entitled " Revenue and Customs: Time for a new union". The piece is subtitled "Guest post by Margaret Rathbone."

This posting is damaging to the interests of PCS members. It has caused great anger and frustration not only amongst members in the HMRC but also in other parts of the union.

He then outlines the case for the recent strike with all the usual hyperbole I have come to expect and accuses the post of "being divisive".

Trouble is that he then goes on to make what I find quite a sinister demand:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

I look forward to your immediate reply.

For readers here is the reply I sent this morning when I was good and ready:

Normally I would thank you for your letter but given the censorious and your frankly quite outrageous demand I can only bring myself to acknowledge your missive.

Before I reply I cannot understand why you have addressed your letter to me in my role as a Branch Secretary when you clearly acknowledged that Howie's Corner is my Personal Blog. It is not advertised as anything to do with PCS either as an individual member or any capacity relating to PCS.

In fact the vast majority of the 700 plus posts are not about PCS and cover a variety of my interests and views.

I can only surmise that there may be a more malefic reason in your future intent.

Your order, and that is what you are saying, that I must remove the guest post by Margaret Rathbone is a direct attack on the right of free and open discourse. The fact that many of the activist caste who dominate PCS do not like, or as you put it "angered" by her article is frankly irrelevant to open and free discussion.

I attempted to start a discussion on the closed PCS members Face Book page but this was quickly halted as it was deemed "inappropriate" by admin. One NEC member concurred with their decision suggesting this should be debated elsewhere including my own blog. I was happy to do so as that is what blogs are for..

Additionally I contacted Margaret through a third party who agreed to set out her case in a guest post which was duly published. Since my blog contains the facility for comments, anyone not happy would have been able to state their views, but instead it seems once again only suppression of dissent is on the "comrades" agenda.

Indeed had you asked I would probably given you a right of reply, but no you chose the normal route of censorship that seems to be the usual state of affairs in PCS.

Given your actions have already led to a very successful breakaway from PCS last year, I understand why you are worried about the possible creation of yet another union. Rather than learn from the lessons of the heavy handed approach you took towards members of SOCA you repeat the same mistakes once again.

I was informed that there would be a "robust response" against those involved in the creation of the RCTU, but your heavy handed approach towards even discussing such matters is disturbing and indicative of a frankly Stalinist mindset.

Given your demand for an immediate response, I would imagine you have already planned your next possible move. If I am right then you stand as an enemy of democracy.

Prove me wrong, though I hold little hope you will.

Freedom of speech is the essential foundation of all human rights. Without it democracy will fall.

Hope that's clear comrade.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Solidarity with the Kurds! A motion for your Labour and Trade Union branches.

Flag of Kurdistan.svg

The fighting in Kobane and in Iraq between the Kurds and the criminals known as ISIS continues. The Turkish Government seems more concerned about fighting it's own Kurds than intervening to prevent genocide. Meanwhile only the bombing by allied forces prevents total disaster.

Those of us in the Labour and Trade Union movement must show solidarity with the Kurds.

The following motion was put forward by Pete Radcliff to Beeston North Labour Party Branch and is published on the new Kurdish Solidarity Campaign Face Book page.

This branch/ CLP calls on the Parliamentary Labour Party to respond to the emergency in the Kurdish Syrian city of Kobane under siege by Islamic State (IS). 

The population of Kobane had been swollen by tens of thousands of refugees from outlying areas fleeing the genocidal force of IS (ISIL/ ISIS). During IS’s war on the region, in addition to the beheadings of UK victim Alan Henning, there have been mass beheadings of Kurdish people who opposed IS’s advance. 

Air strikes will not defeat ISIS. ‘Boots on the grounds’ are needed but they are already there - they are the Kurdish militias of Kobane in the YPG/ YPJ units of the Peshmerga, a third of whose members are women. They have given IS the only real battle it has ever faced.

We call on the PLP as a matter of emergency to call on the government and act themselves to: 

• Support, and discuss with representatives of, the popular and democratic forces in Kobane and the wider region of Rojava where democracy has grown over the last 2 years;

• Openly criticise the Turkish government for its failure to oppose the violently sectarian forces in Syria, including IS, and its refusal to allow arms to the forces defending Kobane from IS;
• Openly criticise the Turkish government for its growing repression of its own Kurdish citizens as well the refugees from Syria; 

• Demand from all countries in the region that they allow arms to flow to the democratic Kurdish fighting forces (YPG/ YPJ and others); 

• Call for an end to any further military relationship with Turkey unless 1) it allows arms and Kurdish fighters back into Syria to defend their people from IS and 2) takes firm action to combat IS and other opponents of democracy in Syria.

We call also on our MEP, Glenis Wilmott, and other Labour representatives in the European parliament to take similar action.

This motion can easily be adjusted for other Labour Party and Trade Union Branches. 

I would urge students to do the same given the utterly shameful decision of the NUS executive as previously reported on this blog.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Trouble in Left Unity again


The newest of the left wing groups has not had an easy ride since it was established. From the beginning it was beset with factional problems, of it's own making one has to say. Before the "party" had even been established they allowed the creation of "Platforms" (another word for factions) inside their organisation. A godsend for some of the more parasitic sects that inhabit the darker recesses of the far-left.

Still despite a "singing" delegate at their founding bash (don't ask it was embarrassing to see even on line) they set up shop and despite the momentous loss of err..Tony Greenstein, they have settled down with around a couple of thousand members.

One of their big "selling points" was that of "safe spaces" which was supposed to allow for comrades, particularly women and the more vulnerable to be able to put forward an opinion without being shouted at or abused by those who normally dominate such meetings.

A worthy practise one would think.

But no from the beginning this has been opposed by those who shouting at other comrades. The kind of behaviour which puts people or should I say "ordinary workers" from participating in politics. Something we see in union meetings when the comrades have a line to push. Anyone who dares to disagree is a "class traitor" or "capitalist pimp" as one self-righteous twit wrote on the PCS Face Book page. Still I digress a little.

There's much ado ado about something on the Left Unity National Committee it would seem as one of its members, Bianca Todd resigns and demands to be allowed to stand again. There's been rumblings about her conduct as an employer that has caused accusations of bulling from fellow comrades.

This isn't exactly up to date news but the Independents diary has picked up the affair:

“From an early age, my grandfather instilled in me one key value: never, ever forget your roots,” Bianca Todd announced in The Guardian newspaper earlier this month, as she accused Ed Miliband of forgetting his.

In the 1980s, her grandfather, Ron Todd, was the most powerful trade unionist in the land, the general-secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, whose massive block vote was the principle obstacle in the path of Neil Kinnock’s efforts to steer Labour into the centre ground. Todd’s granddaughter is a leading light in the Unite union and of Left Unity, which seeks to pull together the disparate groups left of the Labour Party.

An employment tribunal last week awarded three former staff of a Leicestershire youth organisation, Children: Homes, Advice and Teaching Ltd (C:HAT Room), more than £2,000 in unpaid wages and other monies owed to them. They had worked for C:HAT Room for about six months without being given contracts. The company’s head of service is Bianca Todd – she who never, ever forgets her roots.

Oh dear.

No further comment necessary. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Revenue & Customs: Time for a new Union

Guest Post by Margaret Rathbone

After 7 years as a leading activist and Senior negotiator in PCS Revenue and Customs Ive decided to launch a new Trade union. No easy task I can assure you but one that Ive began borne out of a real fear that PCS as an organisation is unfit for purpose and HMRC staff will lose their iindependent voice with the employer.

Eleven years of stagnated leadership has turned PCS into the pseudo political party that it is today. PCS has continuously put politics ahead of member interests. Confrontation, not conciliation is their watchword - they broke up the council of civil service unions, thereby ensuring members are left with no real negotiating forum with the Cabinet Office – which is why they are consistently ignored at National level.

Because they have no forum PCS National Union abrogates their responsibilities to Groups, encouraging them to manufacture disputes, leading to the latest debacle in HMRC where members and activist have no idea what they are striking for. Having no real basis for a trade dispute, HMRC have added everything plus the kitchen sink to their list of unrealistic demands – one of their demands is to insist the employer work against RCTUnion and kill it off.

Revenue and Customs Trade Union is different from PCS – and we know what we can deliver for you.

As an elected representative who has held the trust and confidence of HMRC members for 7 years, I know that our new organisation can offer you effective representation and real achievements without constantly resorting to strike action that achieves no tangible benefits

There is a squeezed middle in HMRC – the O – SO managers who are pressurised from above and below trying to keep up staff morale, implement the bureaucracy of PMR with huge management spans. Our E&C operational staff, struggling to keep pace with changes with clunky and unworkable IT systems, outdated software and ever-increasing yield targets. Our PT colleagues delivering excellent customer service while coping with the transition to a digital agenda that even the employer is struggling to understand. You are the people that PCS is failing because they don’t have the expertise, ability or the willingness to address it, preferring to fight unwinnable battles and ignoring the big strategic changes that will affect HMRC core workforce for the next 10 years and more.

I am building a team of trade unionists that know the issues because they, like you are at the sharp end. They know the Compliance business inside out, they have managed teams, they have the contacts and are respected and listened to by senior management. They are not interested in playing politics, not controlled by factions who do not countenance sensible debate – we have one objective – to work for you as directed by you.

RCTU reps will consult and engage directly with you, swiftly and regularly using methods that you want, whether that’s post, email, text, telephone, social media. They will tap into your knowledge and formulate a negotiating platform that is constructive but challenges the employer, that engages but does not acquiesce and tackles the issues in HMRC that are foremost on your agenda.

Its time for change in HMRC - staff realise this and have been waiting for an alternative to come to the fore that is modern and responsive to members needs and wishes.

We are the alternative – visit us on, follow us on twitter @rctunion – join us and be part of a new order in HMRC.

A comment on the current Strike

Disengagement with PCS is endemic and no wonder! 

Speaking to members its clear they don’t know why they are being asked to take strike action. When I questioned the HMRC GEC about the fact that branches keep telling them members don’t want one day strikes, the answer was – that members DO want them, the activists need them to show the GEC is “strong” and the members need to suffer to strengthen their resolve. YES REALLY!! Well I don’t know about you but 10 years of pay cuts and 5 years of austerity is suffering enough without having to lose 4 days pay in 2 months as well. 

This blasé attitude that relies on the loyalty of members and their intrinsic belief that trade unions are good is destroying the core of what unions are about – solidarity, fellowship, caring for others and improving working conditions.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

PCS activists lose the plot

For some time now October 14th and the week around it has been pushed for to allow the public sector unions to have a mass strike over pay. One union in particular, PCS has decided to throw in with the rest even though there will be no pay negotiations in the civil service until next year.

The PCS NEC held off making its' announcement until as close  at it could, even changing the planned day to October 15th and "spreading out" its action to disrupt the employer as much as it could. In making it's preparations the far-left leadership ignored any not only any other possible developments but also the simple fact it didn't motivate enough of the membership last time.

Last week the rumours about Unison came true as Local Government workers were made a new offer that did indeed fore not only them, but Unite and the GMB to pull out of the strikes to consult their members on the new offer.

If that wasn't enough, the militant RMT union also pulled its strike as they had made "substantial progress" in their negotiations.

Only workers in the NHS, PCS and the UCU are now planning action.

Given that the PCS strike was in fact no more than a protest strike which was never going to force the employer back to the table you'd think PCS would reconsider it's position. However like Thatcher the comrades are not only "not for turning" but visibly detached from reality as the reaction from the activist class became public.

The withdrawal of the RMT, being the first was commented on by one Independent Left activist as "wishing it wasn't happening". Why?

The whole purpose of trade unionism is to represent the members and their interest. Members do not want to go on strike if they can make gains through further negotiations and that seems to be what is happening.  

This "comrade was far from alone as another PCS activist absurdly called the Unison leaders "capitalist pimps"and "political cowards". Ridiculous and frankly the kind of childish nonsense one has come to expect from the activists that dominate the PCS.

If Unison (and Unite) have received a new offer than they have to consult their members. That's not only common sense, its also called democracy. Unison members are low paid and can ill afford to lose money and like the RMT are perfectly entitled to consider a new offer before embarking on strike action.

Its called Trade Unionism comrades of the PCS, something that our union abandoned in favour of political activism years ago.

And is responsible for the situation that members find themselves in.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

A useless far-left union and a Government for whom such lunacy is a godsend as it allowed them to gain the upper had by being able to rely on the likes of Serwotka and company constantly shooting themselves in the foot with ill though out policies and political alliances.

It's not as if the membership are engaged with PCS much these days. Participation in internal elections is at an all time low. Turnout in strikes is far, far less than the leadership try to pretend. In the DWP, the largest department and the lefts stronghold the turnout was an average of just 32%.

Over the last year as people either turn their backs or just give up on PCS, two breakaway unions have either established themselves (National Crime Officers Association) or are in the process of doing so (Revenue & Customs Trade Union). A few have departed for for Prospect, others given up on unions all together

This is the cost of years of far-left buffoonery in the largest of the civil service unions. 

The leadership attempt to align PCS with every tin-pot political outfit on the far-left such as the minute Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition who get next to no support in the real world or throw our weight behind dictatorships in Cuba or Venezuela. The list is endless. 

Time and members subscriptions wasted on a non-trade union agenda by the political caste in the union who brook no opposition.

Those who speak out are shouted down, sidelined and excluded.

So much for a "members led union".

PCS is an activists led union who are only interested in telling the members what they should do and ignore reality whenever it rears it suits them.

The pointless strike next week will be yet another nail in the coffin of PCS.

No wonder so many are now actively seeking an alternative.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Springtime for Erdogan and Putin?

The situation in Kobane worsened tonight as ISIS attempted to gain control of the border crossing with Turkey. Their attempts to surround the town are putting thousands of lives at risk and despite reports of constant air strikes by Western aircraft, there is no sign of the intervention of ground forces despite the Turkish army now being massed on the border.

At the same time rioting is breaking out in Turkey itself as armed gangs of Turkish Nationalist attack Kurdish demonstrators. Over 30 people are already reported dead and there is no sign of the internal strike ending any time soon.

The situation has been inflamed by Turkish officials treating the Kurdish fighter as "another terrorist group". There are some 15 million Kurds in Turkey and their struggle for greater autonomy has been a long and bitter one regardless of the nature of changing governments.

However according to some reports Turkey has further complicated  the situation. Middle East Eye reports:

Turkey is prepared to send ground forces to help eradicate Islamic State in Syria if it gets international assurances for its borders and the removal of the Syrian regime, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday.

In an exclusive interview with CNN International's Christiane Amanpour, the prime minister said that without the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Syrian regime's ongoing offensives posed as big a threat as that caused by the Islamic State.

"We are ready to do everything as long as there is a clear strategy that after [Islamic State] we can be sure that our borders will be protected,” he said. "We don't want the [Assad] regime on our border any more, pushing people against - towards Turkey."

"If [Islamic State] goes, another radical organisation may come in as long as Assad stays in his seat," he added.

That would cause another problem for NATO as The Times reports today that a secret base in Syria now overrun by Syrian Rebels shows that the Russians are in Syria and have been for some considerable time:

..the walls  were covered in Maps of Israel annotated in Russian to show the layout of Israeli forces and signal stations.

There were lists of Russian soldiers who had apparently served with Syrian forces at the base, less than ten miles from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Wall mounted displays showed Syrian army emblams alongside the insignia of the Osnaz GRU, the Russian special forces electronic intelligence unit.

The report also mentions that six of the past commanders of the base were Russian.

Meanwhile Kurds die daily while the machinations of Erdogan and Putin prevent a military solution to stopping ISIS, which can only be done by sending in ground forces.

And yet as another small demonstration took place in Central London today all I hear from the so-called "progressives" of the anti-imperialist left is that  the Western imperialism is the problem.

This blinkered approach is also preventing the growth of a proper solidarity campaign with the Kurds.

Turkey is run by a corrupt Islamist Government who many, quite rightly do not trust. Russia obviously intends to prop up it's client regime under Assad.

The West may eventually have to act unilaterally otherwise there will be a massacre on an unprecedented scale.

Quite simply the West must grow a pair.

Save the Kurds. Now!

Friday, 10 October 2014

WTF: NUS calls solidarity with the Kurds "racist" and "Islamophobic"

The National Executive of the National Union of Students has rejected calls for solidarity with the Kurds. The following motion was rejected by the comrades of the usual anti-imperialist brigades, that is most of the student left.

Iraqi/Kurdish solidarity

Proposed: Daniel Cooper
Seconded: Shreya Paudel, Clifford Fleming

NUS NEC notes

1. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq
- which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.

NUS NEC believes

1. That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian
and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK
invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both
the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic
State” organisation.

2. That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as
weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being
ethnically cleansed.

NUS NEC resolves

1. To work with the International Students' Campaign to support Iraqi,
Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this

2. To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular
support the hard-pressed student, workers' and women's organisations
against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.

3. To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight
for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the
Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.

4. To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against
it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military

5. Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or
supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.

6. To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and
in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.

7. To issue a statement on the above basis.

Whilst not entirely agreeing with all the points made in the motion, I would have though most of those on the left would have found it innocuous enough to support given the genocidal nature of ISIS and the very real threat to Kurdish and Christian lives but no, the NUS rejected it.

According to a report on the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts website the motion attracted ire:

The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention”  (see tweet above)

As a result of the apparently truncated debate most NEC members voted against or abstained (the latter being very cowardly in my opinion).

The NCAFC continues:

The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the International students’ officer, Shreya Paudel. I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism......

In this situation, it is fundamental that the political Left, trade union and student organisations, like NUS, show our solidarity with the Iraqi people, in particular the hard-pressed student, workers and women’s organisations, and those fighting for democracy and equality.

However there is a rather telling comment towards the end which shows the bankruptcy of the politics conducted by the majority of the left these days:

...essentially the idea is widespread that if a Liberation Officer opposes something, it must be bad.

...perhaps because people see or claim to see debate on the Middle East as something that the BSO should somehow have veto power over, regardless of the issues and the arguments made.

Thoroughly disturbing thought. Frankly quite Stalinist and a threat in itself to the vitality of debate not just in the students movement but elsewhere too.

People need to learn to challenge, to think for themselves, to stand up for what they beleive in which is what I always thought higher education was for.

Sadly not in the National Union of Students.

If that's political correctness these days you can stuff it where the sun doesn't shine.

Hat/Tip: David T.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The world watches while Kurds die

It’s barely twenty years since the world witnessed a major genocide in Burundi when up to a million Tutsi’s were massacred in one of the worst massacres in history. The world, unable or unwilling to act failed to intervene. The result? Mass graves of innocent men, women and children killed just because of their ethnic background.

As I write the media is reporting that a third of Kobane in Northern Syria has now fallen to the ISIS criminals. These evil men have made it clear to all that those that fall under their control must convert to their violent brand of Islam, be enslaved or more likely die.

As the Kurds fight for their lives, one of the most efficient military machines in the Middle East is massed on the border refusing to intervene. Turkey watches more closely than most as the fighting reaches it’s own doorstep.

The large Kurdish minority in Turkey itself has protested at the lack of action and only the occasional air strikes of the US air force bring temporary relief. Turkish police has killed at least nine, if not more of the protesters, yet fail to act against the threat heading their way.

Turkey, a country torn between Islamism and Secularism has of course been at war with the Kurds themselves for decades, and a very brutal conflict it has been. Going back further in time Turkey has itself been the scene of the most appalling of crimes. The first genocide of modern times against the Armenian Christians, a crime it tries to pretend never took place despite one and a half million deaths.

It remains a crime in Turkey to even raise the issue of the genocide. Even historians can face lengthy prison sentences for referring to the Armenian genocide. Such is the history of many countries in the Middle East where intolerance, fanaticism and dictatorship of long and deep roots.

This history cannot be allowed to interfere with the very real massacres taking place in Syria and Iraq. Every night our TV screens are filled with pictures and stories of the murderous fanatics of ISIS. No one is spared. Not Christians, not Kurds nor even other Muslims. It is all very much convert or die.

And of death there has been plenty.

The world must act against these barbarians now sweeping across the crescent. Other groups like the Taliban in Pakistan and Boko Haram in Nigeria are already looking to the so-called “Islamic State” for leadership as the cults influence grows.

Even on our doorsteps the threat is becoming very real. Not just failed plots here in the UK as arrests are made to prevent terrorist atrocities in London, but also ISIS sympathisers have been attacking Kurds in places like Hamburg in Germany. A country where armed guards have now been placed outside Synagogues because of Islamist backed anti-Semitism.

The West and the Muslim world itself must act. 

The war needs to be fought not just in military terms as it inevitably must be, but on an ideological front as well. The growth of extremist Islam is a reoccurring phenomenon across history and is far from unique to the twenty-first century. It has been there since the beginning.

If we are truly to beat this threat than we must act against those who seek to brainwash the disaffected youth of today with worse than medieval theology. The time has come not for Jihad, but Itjihad, a reformation in Islam that is long overdue.

Christianity survived such reform, but the intolerance inherent of much of the preaching and teaching of self centred clerics including those from Saudi Arabia whose hateful messages are all over the Internet must be combated.

It’s about time Muslims acted to make Islam the “religion of peace” they try to claim it is, because at the moment many see quite the opposite.

The key is tolerance.

Worship who you please, but accept that there are those who do not believe and some who may wish to leave. When Islam ends death penalties for apostasy and blasphemy the battle will be half won.

Secularism is the future and a vital weapon in the long term.

But for now saving the Kurds is our first task.

The world must intervene now.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

"Peoples" Question Time? My a*se!

This afternoon the PCS union sent out an e-mail inviting it's members to attend what was described as a "Peoples Question Time" in East London tomorrow night. This event appears to have been organised by the far-left  Counterfire organisation or what little is left of it after one of those inexplicable splits that take place in the trotskyist milieu took place recently.

The workers are invited to listen to a panel of the self appointed vanguard plus a comedian neither I, nor anyone else around me at work had heard of.

The panel consists of Russell Brand, millionaire dandy who can afford to tell us it's not worth voting for anyone because he is rich enough to escape the consequences, Mark Serwotka, the useless General Secretary of the failing PCS union, Ava Vidal (?) a comedian apparently, John Rees Deputy Fuhrer of the pro Assad, Pro Putin, Stop the War Campaign and a Green Party member.

Oh and Lutfur Rahman the egotistical pro-Islamist Mayor of Tower Hamlets will be there to make a comment.

They are inviting people to send in questions.

Here's one for John Rees:

Why won't you help the Kurds against ISIS, especially in Kobane where there is likely to be a genocide if we just stand by!!

 For Lutfur Rahman:

Why do you feel the need to waste taxpayers money having your face pasted all over the place even on dustcarts?

And for Sir Mark Vodka:

Why has the PCS now had two breakaways in a year? And why can't we discuss this like adults inside the union.

As for Russell Brand? That might simply be about something simple like the use of "soap" and "water" in a reference to washing.....

Only one problem.

There's no tickets left, oh well I can watch the histrionics on-line if I want.

Peoples question time?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

"Exiting news" for SWP members

Believe it or not it's time for another Socialist Workers Party conference and the first of their internal members bulletins has already been leaked on-line, so what are the remaining comrades up to one asks?

According to Bridget (Stirchley & Kingsheath):

In January our district received an email with the subject “Birmingham: Some good news!” I opened it during a boring work meeting, excited to find out what it was about and discovered that we had been chosen as a Socialist Worker sales improvement area!

Gosh what an honour, except given their recent crisis (plural) one would have thought every area was needed to be designated a "Socialist Worker sales improvement area. Undaunted our inveterate comrade writes:

The district, feeling lucky to be specially selected, took up the challenge and has put paper sales at the heart of everything we have done this year.

It's probably because you are one of the few areas left where the SWP consists of more than a couple of die hard pensioners and a dog frankly. Still don't let me curb your enthusiasm which is apparently boundless because they braved the bad weather, got a trolley and a new megaphone. And don't forget the A2 sized plastic wallets. Heaven forbid....

It seems the remaining comrades have descended to cultist levels to protect themselves from the real world where even other leftists, especially feminists are shunning the SWP or simply running them out of town, so to speak.

Frankly this rather thin tome is rather boring and reminiscent of the ones that used to appear before the comrade delta affair came to pass. There's not much in it, though "Andy", a "National Member" (which means there isn't a branch near him, poor soul) continues to bemoan the lack of democracy and accountability inside the party.

"Andy" reminds comrades that "at the moment the Central Committee is accountable to no one but itself". Not really new is it comrade. Been like that for years, something to do with "democratic centralism" I am led to understand.

Or is it because the SWP is a cult? 

There's a few..... but "Andy" continues:

Basically the central committee can do they want, including having total control of conference (changing the dates, basis of delegation and who can be delegated) - then ignoring it's decisions..

Which includes suspending recruitment figures from being published over the last eighteen months, which might not be surprising given the heavy loss of membership over that period. The comrade then resorts to talking about "bending the stick" (a Tony Cliff phrase if I recall correctly) in order to rebuild the party's reputation.

Stop laughing at the back.

Members of the Socialist Workers Party are deranged if they think that is ever going to happen after all that came out during their very public fallout. 

And as for democracy?

Guess what the Central Committee hacks have nominated themselves for re-election again, less Esme C who isn't standing for some such reason or another. No sign of an alternative slate (the SWP leadership is elected by "slate" rather than on an individual basis. reason? Go figure me neither.)

Everything in the "party" is appointed from thereon apparently, so if you are a member, lump it or leave.

Those who remain in the SWP represent the worst of the Marxist "hive mind" that Leninism produces.

Be thankful they will never gain power.

Just look at North Korea.

And weep.

Monday, 6 October 2014

In defence of Tom and Jerry

Certain programmes bring back memories of simpler times. Growing up in the sixties and seventies there was Blue Peter, Doctor Who, Vision On and of course Tom and Jerry that wonderful little cartoon which if memory serves me right came on just before the news.

Always made us laugh, after all it was just a cartoon wasn't it?

Mary Whitehouse didn't agree. 

Silly cow thought it was too violent, but then she was always sticking her nose in where it wasn't wanted. She ended complaining about naked manikins in shop windows, let alone Chuck Berry's "ding a ling" (there's a thought for a "musical interlude one of these days when I'm short of time).

There's all sorts of people out there claiming they are protecting "public morality" even today.

Now Tom and Jerry are under attack again. Needs a "Racist stereotype" warning on some of the old episodes apparently. The maid (who was black and always seen from the neck down) was a product of American racism we are told. Never occurred to me for a minute I have to say.

Never made me racist either.

Nor anyone else I know.

But then the politically correct brigade know better don't they?

In many ways the current controversy (if you can call it that, most people just seem to laugh at political correctness gone mad) reminds me of another stupid attempt at censorship.

A Superman strip in Elseworlds 80 page giant published a few years back.

This shows a Superbaby flying around the kitchen going into a microwave oven and then it explodes as he is err...invulnerable. One group of fine American mothers got DC comics to pulp it (except those already on the plane shipping to old blighty) because it "might encourage people to put their babies in microwaves".

Old Anglo-Saxon word "bollocks" comes to mind.

There is real racism out there that needs fighting. 

Leave Tom and Jerry alone. In fact bring it back to mainstream TV so a whole new generation of kids can enjoy it.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Go back to your constituencies and sink into oblivion

When I was growing up in deepest Surrey back in the early seventies there was little choice for those who wanted to get involved in politics. It was either the Young Conservatives or the Young Liberals. At a push the Young Farmers but little else. Labour was practically non-existent and in any case did not appeal at the time.

Railing against the system, especially some of the snobbery still prevalent at the the time (Village Squires and all that) I had a strong distaste for the Conservative Party. The Chairman of the local YC's was the buffoon Peter Bruinvels, the one that later  became an MP and wanted to try Arthur Scargill for "sedition", which included a hanging clause at the time. Ridiculous little man.

So becoming a Liberal was a reasonable choice for a fifteen year old looking for a way to make a difference to the world.

Eventually of course the left did attract me as a student, but since I have lived in predominately Tory areas, voting Liberal, albeit tactically became a habit. Only relatively recently has Labour been a practical alternative in constituency terms.

However the Coalition Government has changed all that. Not even tactically would I vote for the shower that passes for the Liberal Party today. Clegg and his minions have destroyed an vestige of respect I could ever have for the "radical" Liberal tradition.

Everything they have done from botching electoral reform with a referendum on Electoral reform to Student fees has been has been excruciatingly painful to watch. At the height of the economic crisis Clegg was wittering on about reforming the House of Lords.

Sod that I thought

People need jobs, homes and a proper National Health first. Constitutional reform can wait.

And here we are less than a year away from a general election and what do I read in the Sunday Times? The Liberals have voted to make brothels legal and allow street soliciting. OK fine but not exactly a priority and certainly not a vote winner.

Our wages have been kept down so long it's now a struggle and union rights have been undermined by this government that Clegg is part of. Yet what is this I hear? Some Lib Dem Peer, Baroness Olly Grender, is moaning about her £300 a day allowance being not enough to live on.

FFS, what planet does this woman live on? 

Everyone I know would absolutely relish being able to "struggle" on three hundred quid a day. Its a hell of a lot of money. Has she no idea about real wages and the cost of living?

Obviously not.

The Liberal Democrats no longer serve a useful purpose in politics. Currently out polled by UKIP and only just ahead of the Green Party in the polls, their future is bleak.

As far as I'm concerned ready for the proverbial political "knackers yard".

There is only one alternative to the Tories.

Vote Labour.

So Mr Milliband time to pull yer bleeding finger out and make sure you win.